The terrorist’s group waging war against the country in the northeast launched a terrible attack on a military based few weeks ago and ended up killing over 100 soldiers with the figure of those still missing in battle yet to be revealed.
The attack by the West African wing of the Islamic State came as a surprise against the backdrop of claims by the government that it has technically defeated the insurgent group and rendered it incapable of major attack against the civil population or the military.
The insurgents who were said to have overwhelmed and overran the military based in Metele, a border town between Nigeria and Chad, was not without a prior warning to the military, without a major effort to stave off the attack.
From available information, the insurgent actually drove in from a neighbouring country to carry out the attack on the military base. This confirms the claim by the West Africa unit of Islamic State as being the brain behind the attack.
However, the precision with which the attack was carried out without a major resistance by the military is raising dust among the high command of the military.
A senior officer with the rank of a Lt Col who happened to be the commander of the unit was said to be one of the victims, an indication that a tactical error must have been committed in the military response to the initial warning that the insurgents were approaching the base to attack it.
The commander of the unit was said to have raised issue about the poor state of equipments and weaponry available to the troop under his command with the high command few weeks before the deadly attack by the Boko Haram insurgents.
In recent time, the insurgents have focused on carrying out attack on military base, a major tactic in the battle of supremacy between the military and the insurgents. Insiders said the decision of the terrorists to target military base for their attack was a tactical approach to weaken the troop in the battle front and take advantage of the perceived low morale among the soldiers.
Information filtering from the soldiers has showed that many of them are not pleased with the manner they are being treated by the military high command in term of welfare and provision of war equipment.
On three different occasions, the military had claimed that it has degraded the terrorists group and rendered it incapable of carrying out major attack against the country. On December 22, 2016, the President Muhammadu Buhari announced to the whole world that the military has technically defeated the insurgent group. A year after, the former theatre commander of the operation in the northeast, General Roger Nicholas also claimed the military has dislodged and occupied the insurgents’ tactical ground ‘camp zero.’
Even though, from all indications, considerable efforts has been made by the military to reduce the capacity of the insurgents, definitely, a lot is still needed to be done to subdue them and ensure that they no longer pose threat to lives and property in the region.
The impact of the war against terror in the region has continued to affect social and economic activities, while hope to resettle those displaced from their homes are daily dimming.
There are over 1.7 million people in various Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps across Borno State, many of whom cannot carry out any economic activities but solely depend on humanitarian aides from donor agencies and development partners. According to data from the country’s population commission, the number of displaced persons increases by 4.5 percent between end of 2017 and early this year.
Apart from the drain on human resources, the war is putting continued pressure on the country’s economy. Early in the year, the president has to approve the disbursement of $1 billion from the country’s excess crude savings account to procure modern weapon and gunship in a bid to improve the capacity of the military.
The country was able to secure the approval of the United States to purchase high powered fighter jet to enhance the capacity of the military. Though the fighter jets are yet to be delivered to the country, the country was able to take delivery of four gunships from Russian, which has helped the country in combating the menace of bandits in Zamfara and Taraba States.
The upsurge in the attack by the insurgents coming few months to a critical election bears the resemblance of occurrence in the time past.
The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is already taking advantage of the misfortune to throw dart at the ruling party. According to the opposition, the present administration is insensitive to the plight of the soldiers battling the insurgent at the theater of war. The main opposition is also insinuating that the ruling party has diverted funds meant to prosecute the terror war to fund its political campaign.
Many military officers have been tried in the time past on allegations of leaking information to the insurgent group and sabotaging the war against terror. Apart from that, some politicians have also been accused of being the brain behind the increasing attack by the Boko Haram. Apart from the religion angle to the terror attack, politics and other motives have been ascribed to the surge in the activities of the terrorists group.
This has further complicated the fight against the insurgents by the military as government has not been able to track down those invisible hands propelling the insurgents.
The success of the operations of the Boko Haram group till date in spite of the huge resources deployed by the government to counter the group’s activities has continued to raise more concerns on the failure of intelligence, corruption in the military high rank and the growing poverty as a result of lack of employment among the youth.
The insurgents have continued to successfully recruit its foot soldiers from the army of unemployed youth in the region while the government seems not able to tackle unemployment as part of measure to address the problem of terrorism.
Already, with the huge figure of displaced people living in the IDPs spread across the state, food security is being threatened with prediction that there will soon be food shortage in the region.
The government should re-strategise and make sure that the war against the terrorists is won decisively to ensure that peace returns to the northeast. Problems of youth unemployment should be frontally tackled by the government in conjunction with the development partners. Once the majority of the youth are gainfully engaged, the insurgents will be starved of source of recruitment for its foot soldiers.
The issue of welfare of the troop fighting at the war front should be adequately tackled as well, to boost the morale of the soldiers while more modern equipment should be procured and deployed to the battle field to enhance the capacity of the military.
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